[Is It Worth It?]: Soundproofing Windows vs Train Noise – My Review

My Studio Apartment’s Noise Problems

My studio apartment is in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur city center and has 4 sources of noise pollution that make it hard to sleep:

Noise pollution triple whammy
  1. LRT train noise – every 6 mins from 5 am to 12 am
  2. LRT track maintenance noise (once every few weeks from 1 am to 4 am)
  3. School activity noise
  4. Construction noise
30X zoom photo from the balcony of track maintenance work at 1 am

I researched and hired a soundproofing window company to solve my problems. In this article, I’ll share with you my personal experience:

  1. The soundproofing window installation process in my apartment.
  2. The dB difference before and after installation.
  3. Ultimately, am I happy? Is it worth it?

I’ll start by presenting the key findings of my soundproofing project:

Summary of Soundproofing Performance

The average train noise reduction after installing the soundproofing windows is -20 dB (or a -30% reduction).

Noise SourceHow I Feel Before How I Feel After
LRT Train noiseCan’t sleep30% reduction
Train track maintenanceCan’t sleepWhat noise?
School noiseI hear it, but not botheredWhat noise?
Construction noiseCan sleep, but annoyingWhat noise?
Table of performance
Average Ambient Noise Vs Train Noise, Before & After Installation of Soundproofing Windows

I used a decibel meter app on my phone to measure the noise difference when the train passes in 6 scenarios:

TestSituationAmbient Noise (dB)Train Noise (dB)Difference (dB)
1[Before Installation]: Inside with closed sliding doors. No school noises45 dB60 dB+15 dB
2[Before Installation]: Inside, closed sliding doors with school noise50 dB70 dB+20 dB
3At the balcony outside – with school noise in the background67 dB80 dB+13 dB
4[After Installation]: measured inside – daytime, 1st train33 dB45 dB+ 12 dB
5[After Installation]: measured inside – daytime, 2nd train 36 dB46 dB+10 dB
6[After Installation]: measured inside – night time35 dB45 dB+10 dB

Total project cost: Roughly RM 7,000 which includes:

  • Dismantling & disposal of old 3 panels sliding doors and old bathroom window
  • Soundproofing windows:
    • 3-panel window replacing sliding doors
    • 1 small bathroom window
The old 3 panel sliding door that will be replaced
Old bathroom window that will also be replaced

How Do Soundproofing Windows Work?

Soundproofing works on 2 principles:

  • A thicker glass with a plastic laminate sandwiched in the middle of the glass that help to bounce off as much noise as possible.
  • Air-tight window frame that does not allow noise to seep through.
2 pieces of glass sandwiching an acoustic film in between
Thick and solid window frames to keep everything airtight

How the Soundproofing Windows Are Installed

The old sliding doors are removed
The sliding door frame is yanked out from the concrete walls
The new 1-piece soundproof window frames are screwed into the concrete walls
View from the outside in: The gap between the frame and the concrete wall will be filled in with acoustic foam later
Filling up the gaps with acoustic foam
After a few hours, the acoustic foam hardens and sets into place
The soundproof windows are slotted into the frame
Installing the rubber seal between the glass and the frame
Installing a sponge seal for the regular door
Includes a sound stopper as a seal at the bottom of the door
Finished later that evening: I can’t hear the heavy rain noise at all
On the following day, cement touch up work on the outside
After the cement dried, they painted it over
Voila, finished product. The frames do feel and look expensive

Final Verdict, am I Happy?

At first, I was disappointed because I can still hear the train noise. But most of the noise is coming from the wooden door and not from the soundproof windows.

After a while, I have grown to accept the overall soundproofing performance. Despite still being able to hear the train noises, I don’t find any problems sleeping, and it is easier to forget about the train noise at 45 dB as opposed to before at 65 dB.

My next project is to DIY to install rubber D-shaped seals on the wooden door. You can get these at Lazada:

Link to product

Helmi Hasan

Hi, I'm Helmi Hasan, the founder, and writer for the personal finance blog, Balkoni Hijau. Read more in the 'About Me' page or follow me on Twitter.

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